Dr. Kyle Ellis serves as the Director of the Center for Student Success and First-Year Experience. He came to The University of Mississippi in 2004 as an academic advisor. He received his B.S. in Health and Human Performance and M.S. in Education from the University of Tennessee at Martin. He earned his Ph.D. in Higher Education in 2011 from The University of Mississippi. His dissertation focused on academic advising experiences of first-year students who are undecided in their major.
Dr. Ellis currently serves on the Board of Directors for the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA). Additionally, he is active in the Consortium for Student Retention and Data Exchange (CSRDE). Through publications, presentations, and speaking engagements, Dr. Ellis is committed to growth and professional development, in order to ensure student success, satisfaction, and persistence.
R. Dewey Knight serves the Center for Student Success and First-Year Experience as the Associate Director. Knight’s professional career in financial services and higher education spans some forty-three years. He holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Advertising and a Master of Arts degree in Higher Education and Student Personnel from the University of Mississippi. He is now completing the final requirement for his Doctor of Philosophy degree in Higher Education at Ole Miss. His graduate studies and research have focused on the psychosocial development of college students. He is a frequent presenter at higher education professional conferences and meetings.
Knight’s principal duties at the Center involve the leadership of the first-year experience initiatives and retention. He coordinates EDHE 105, the Freshman Year Experience course, which enrolls over 2000 freshmen each year.
Dr. Travis Hitchcock is the Assistant Director for Advising and an academic advisor for freshmen in the School of Engineering. He also teaches EDHE 105: Freshman Year Experience and EDLD 201: Career Decision-making.
Born and raised in Oxford, Travis attended Ole Miss and earned a Bachelor of Science in Human Development, a Master of Arts in Higher Education/Student Personnel, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Higher Education. Travis’ area of expertise and research interest lies within the field of career development and its impact on student retention. He is also a member of the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA) and the National Career Development Association (NCDA).
Jennifer Phillips is Assistant Director for Retention and an academic advisor serving students majoring in Accounting in the Center for Student Success and First-Year Experience. Ms. Phillips earned her B.A. in English with a minor in Business Administration (2003) and her M.A. in Higher Education/Student Personnel (2007) from Ole Miss. She also completed the Paralegal Studies certificate program in 2004.
She is currently writing her dissertation for completion of the Ph.D. in Higher Education where she is exploring the topic of student retention and expects to graduate in 2014. She is an active member in the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA), Mississippi Advisors’ Meeting (MAM) , National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA), Center for Student Retention Data Exchange (CSRDE), and is the coordinator for the Freshman Attendance-Based Initiative (FABI) which is a retention program targeting the attendance habits of students in 100- and 200-level courses. She also teaches a section of the Freshman Year Experience course for freshmen each fall and coordinates summer orientation advising for the campus.
Michael Howland is the Coordinator for Veteran and Military Services and an Adjunct Professor of Legal Studies. He retired in 2013 from a 25-year career in the United States Joint/Army Special Operations Command and served multiple tours of combat during his service. His last assignment prior to retirement was serving as the Senior Military Instructor for the University of Mississippi ROTC program from 2010-2013. Michael received his B.S. in Criminal Justice from Troy University and earned his Master’s in Criminal Justice (Homeland Security) from the University of Mississippi.
At the Center for Student Success and First-Year Experience, Michael is responsible for enhancing growth at the University of Mississippi by seeking veterans, service members and dependents to provide them with assistance, advocacy and counseling while obtaining a degree at Ole Miss. He also serves as an instructor for EDHE 105 (First Year Experience) that focuses on Veteran-specific issues.
Ann Margaret Compton is the Veteran Affairs Certifying Official for students using VA Educational Benefits.
Ms. Compton was born in Indianapolis, IN and raised in Pontotoc. MS where she currently resides. Ann Margaret completed her Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education with an emphasis in Mathematics and Science from the University of Mississippi graduating Cum Laude in 2010.
Rachael Durham is the Coordinator of First-Year Experience. She also serves as an instructor for EDHE 105 (First-Year Experience). She is originally from Memphis, TN, but now calls Oxford home. Rachael completed her Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism with an emphasis in Public Relations from the University Of Mississippi in 2008 and her Masters of Higher Education and Student Personnel from the University of Mississippi in 2012.
Jenna Artz is an academic advisor serving undeclared students with last names A-J. She also serves as an instructor for EDHE 105 (Freshman Year Experience). Her hometown is Vicksburg, Mississippi. She earned her BA in Speech Communications from the University of Southern Mississippi in 2009 and completed her M.Ed. in College Student Personnel from the University of Southern Mississippi in 2010.
In addition to her advising and teaching duties, Jenna is responsible for the center’s social media accounts. She is also a member of the National Association of Student Personal Administrators (NASPA).
Crystal A. Dunn advises freshman students in the School of Applied Sciences. She is from the small town of Sardis, Mississippi. She is an alumnus of the University of Mississippi, having earned her BA in Psychology in 2008 and MA in Higher Education Student Personnel in 2010. She is currently enrolled in the doctoral program for Higher Education/ Student Personnel at the University of Mississippi where her research interests include first-generation college students and retention in higher education.
As an academic advisor in the CSSYE, Crystal is the coordinator of StudentsFIRST, a program designed to address the needs of first-year, first-generation college students on our campus. She also serves as the E-advisor for the department to assist students across campus with finding answers to general academic and advising questions. In the spring of 2014, Crystal was awarded the Academic Advising Network’s Excellence in Advising Award.
Bridget Hester is an academic advisor serving freshmen majoring in the STEM fields within the College of Liberal Arts. She is from Hammond, Louisiana and earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Southeastern Louisiana University. She earned her Master of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of Mississippi.
In addition to advising, Bridget teaches EDHE 105 (Freshman Year Experience) and LIBA 102 (Freshman Year Seminar). She also coordinates the Excellence in Advising Awards for the Academic Advising Network. Bridget is a member of the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA) and the National Career Development Association (NCDA).
Chris Kohl is an academic advisor for business students with last names beginning with A through L. Chris comes to Ole Miss from Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He earned a BA in Modern Languages in 2007 and an MA in Higher Education Administration in 2011 from the University of Alabama.
EJ Presley is an academic advisor serving business students with the last names M-Z. EJ is originally from Crenshaw, MS but currently resides in Oxford, MS. He earned his B.A. in Psychology from The University of Mississippi in 2010. He also earned his M.Ed in Clinical Mental Health Counseling form The University of Mississippi in 2012.
At the Center for Student Success and First-Year Experience, EJ is elated to help students discover which degree best fit their career choice. EJ is a National Certified Counselor (NCC).
Mariana Rangel is an academic advisor serving students majoring in the humanities and social science fields within the College of Liberal Arts. She earned a B.S. in Psychology from Lipscomb University in 2010 and a M.Ed. in Counseling from the University of Mississippi in 2012. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration at the University of Mississippi.
At the Center for Student Success and First-Year Experience, Mariana serves as the webmaster and assists with the First-Year Experience program. She is also as an instructor for EDHE 105 (Freshman Year Experience) and EDHE 101 (Academic Skills for College). Mariana is a National Certified Counselor (NCC), a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in the state of Mississippi, a member of the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA) and of the American Counseling Association (ACA).
Beth Whittington is an academic advisor serving undeclared students with the last names L-Z. Beth calls Hernando, MS home but resides in Oxford now. She earned her B.S. in Secondary Education with an emphasis in Spanish from Mississippi State University in 2008 and her M.A. in Higher Education Administration and Student Personnel from the University of Mississippi in 2012.
At the Center for Student Success and First-Year Experience, Beth enjoys working with undeclared students in career and major exploration. She also serves as an instructor for EDHE 105 (Freshman Year Experience) and Edld 201 (Career Decision Making). She is a member of the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA) and the National Career Development Association (NCDA).
Mary Ann Croker is the Senior Administrative Secretary for the Center for Student Success and First-Year Experien
Melissa Laird Thompson received her B.A. in English from Ole Miss and is now pursuing her M.A. in Higher Education. Melissa is a graduate assistant at the CSSFYE, and she enjoys teaching EDHE 305 and teaching group fitness classes at the Turner Center.